Journal article

Language contact and gender in Tetun Dili: What happens when Austronesian meets Romance?

John Hajek, Catharina WILLIAMS-VAN KLINKEN

Oceanic Linguistics | University of Hawaii Press | Published : 2019


Tetun Dili is an Austronesian language and one of the two official languages in Timor-Leste, alongside Portuguese with which it has been in contact for centuries. In this detailed study, we describe various aspects of gender in Tetun Dili, in both native and borrowed vocabulary. We identify marked differences between gender marking in native and borrowed Portuguese words, with Tetun prioritizing the feminine, and Portuguese the masculine. We show that through contact with Portuguese, Tetun Dili has also developed “marginal”gender, with grammatical gender agreement being optional but increasingly common for Portuguese loans, mainly in the acrolect. Grammatical agreement is also spreading to a..

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University of Melbourne Researchers